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Supreme Court disapproves of circus surrounding Jasmine Hartin case, gives one-week adjournment on bail application pending submissions

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Posted: Wednesday, June 2, 2021. 9:04 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: In what we are willing to bet is the most populated, but also least densely packed, courtroom seen in Belize the last few months, what we must call the first stage of bail application for Jasmine Hartin, 32, lasted barely a few minutes this afternoon.

Hartin has been charged with manslaughter by negligence in the death of Superintendent Henry Jemmott.

The most senior and experienced judge in the Supreme Court’s Criminal Jurisdiction, Herbert Lord, a former Chief Magistrate, was handed the hot potato by boss and Acting Chief Justice Michelle Arana just this morning. 

And the first thing he made clear to all present, including reporters, is that he is greatly disturbed by the commentary surrounding the case thus far.

Taking their cues, prosecutor Shanice Lovell and defense counsel Senior Counsel Godfrey Smith kept their post-court statements short.

The office of the Director of Public Prosecutions provided the court this morning with what Smith described as a one-sentence document simply reading ‘We object to bail on the basis of flight risk.’

Justice Lord asked for written submissions including case law on the objection by Friday, June 4 from the Crown; and by Monday, June 7, from the defense, before adjourning the case to next Wednesday, June 9. He also stated that he may rule on the case from the bench, or invite oral argument.

That means Hartin remains in the Central Prison at Hattieville until her case is heard.

The request for written submissions is unusual considering the usual mode of hearing such cases is oral argument and a relatively quick decision.

After the conclusion of the hearing Lovell asserted that the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions believed that Hartin presented a “serious flight risk.”

Smith would not comment on the nature of the allegations against his client, but he asserted the importance of the press in regulating the widespread allegations against Ms Hartin.

“You all will have heard Judge Lord express his disapproval in the publicity he has seen attending to this matter; I have no intention of contributing to that. You will have heard what I have heard – which is that the matter is adjourned,” he stated before reiterating the orders of the court.

 

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